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New Balance

NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM 860v12 REVIEW

New Balance 860v12 Review

THE BUZZ

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v12 has been a mainstay in the New Balance line-up for years. The 12th iteration has received considerable upgrades for the past two years. Its smoother and more comfortable than ever while still being supremely stable and secure.

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v12 remains a workhorse of an everyday trainer for runners who need some additional support for pronation control with some modern, livelier features.

New Balance 860v12 Review

WHAT’S NEW

The 860v12 features a two-layer FuelCell/Fresh Foam X midsole package for the first time. This is a significant update that’s made it softer and slightly bouncier. It also has an improved engineered mesh upper and new lacing system that has enhanced the fit, feel and breathability.

Stability is derived from the firm and fairly traditional medial post — a large, wedge of higher-density foam under the arch along the inside edge of the foot — as well as the slightly wider footprint from the midfoot through the toe box.

While it remains a very stable shoe, the key aspect of the 860v12 is that it’s a smoother type of stable and not rigid and clunky like some of the previous editions.

New Balance replaced the elf-like Ultra Heel feature of the previous edition of the 860 with a more tradition padded heel collar with a slight flare to reduce Achilles tension.

The new upper, an updated lacing system, a firm heel counter and a heavier embroidered “N” logo combine for a secure all-around fit.

New Balance 860v12 Review

FIT-FEEL-RIDE

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v12 fits true to size with a medium fit from heel through the midfoot and a noticeably wider toe box than it previous had. (It’s available in two widths for men and women.)

There’s a sense of cushy softness as you as you step into these shoes and lace ‘em up. This is  because of the soft Fresh Foam X midsole top layer and also from the premium sockliner, padded tongue, lightly padded heal collar and the locked-down hold of the upper.

While the FuelCell foam provides a solid foundation that makes it extremely stable on the run, the layer of squishy Fresh Foam X cushioning helps create a softer, smoother and springier ride. It’s a good mix that feels great while still providing the stability that runners expect.

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who need or appreciate a super-stable training shoe for high-mileage training will like the 860v12 a lot. But it’s been improved so much, those who ran in the previous two editions probably won’t believe it’s the same model.

While it was a bit one-dimensional previously, the new model is more dynamic and versatile. It’s best for weekend long runs and mid-week maintenance runs, but it can definitely hold its own on moderately fast tempo runs, spontaneous fartlek runs and some longer intervals.

New Balance 860v12 Review

FRESH FOAM 860v12 PROS

The Fresh Foam X midsole compound is the softest and most compliant foam New Balance has in its lineup. The thin, full-length slice of that foam on the top of the midsole provides a hint of bouncy responsiveness in every stride. The ride is secured by the thick layer of FuelCell foam on the bottom.

The outsole is made entirely of blown rubber. This gives it sufficient grip on wet and dry pavement and plenty of durability. It’s very similar to the previous two editions of the shoe, with a slightly different pattern and marginally wider flex grooves.

Overall this shoe shines as a tried-and-true stability model with some modern flair. It’s not going to blow your hair back or inspire speed, but it’s reliable and slightly cushier and more comfortable than its predecessors.

New Balance 860v12 Review

FRESH FOAM 860v12 CONS

The biggest downside to this shoe is that it’s heavier some of its contemporaries in the moderate stability category. If you’re running mostly slower to moderate paces, that’s fine. But if you running longer or faster, you’ll definitely notice the weight.

860v12 TECH SPECS

SHOP NEW BALANCE 860v12

MEN’S NEW BALANCE 860v12

New Balance 860v12 Review

MEN’S 860v12 COMING SOON

WOMEN’S NEW BALANCE 860v12

Women's 860v12 Review

WOMEN’S 860v12 COMING SOON

Categories
New Balance Reviews

NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM 860 v11 REVIEW

THE BUZZ

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 is a reliable daily trainer with loads of cushy comfort and stabilizing support.

The 860 v11 is ideal for short runs, long runs and week after week of high-mileage training. It’s also versatile and secure enough to go through the grind at the gym, too.

New Balance 860 v11 - What's New

WHAT’S NEW

New Balance updated this reliable training shoe with a softer midsole foam package to improve the comfort and ride. It also features a new upper to improve the fit and performance.

Those changes have given the 860v11 a lively new vibe and the fresh feel of a modern stability shoe.

The geometry of this shoe offers plenty of cushion and support while also playing a role in taking pressure off the Achilles.

The relatively high heel-toe offset (10mm) and heel stack height (31mm) is ideal for new runners. It also serves those interested in long, slow comfortable miles.

FIT, FEEL, RIDE

Forget what you know about stability shoes. The New Balance 860 v11 is sporty, plush and smooth. First, it is available in three widths (narrow, medium and wide) so it’s very accommodating to all sizes of feet. Generally speaking it has a medium volume interior from heel to toe.

The step-in feel is soft and luxurious, combining a squishy top layer of its footbed, a padded tongue. It also introduces a flared Ultra Heel collar, which both wraps the foot and reduces tension on the Achilles.

The thin layer of Fresh Foam midsole cushioning sandwiched between the footed and a thicker layer of EVA foam helps soften the ride and add a tinge of springiness in every stride.

New Balance created the concave and convex dimple pattern of the Fresh Foam compound. This alters levels of compression and resistance under impact based on gait data recorded from thousands of runners.

The ride is smooth and consistent, though not overly energetic. The new two-layer midsole foam gives it a mildly springy feel. The energy return is minimal even though the comfort value is high.

WHO IT’S BEST FOR

Runners who appreciate soft cushioning and need a bit of support to offset mild to moderate over-pronation. The 860 v11 is a great workhorse training shoe that can be a great shoe for many types of runners.

It’s suitable for new runners who don’t vary their pace much, taller or larger runners who want more cushioning and support.

The 860 also serves those who are known to pronate consistently or tend to endure form fatigue in final miles of a long run.

New Balance 860 v11 - Pros

PROS: New Balance 860 v11

The key component of the 860v11 is the medial post that provides noticeably stability under the arch. You can definitely feel the extra support in every stride — especially if you’re a severe over-pronator — but the shoe provides a smooth transition from the heel to mid-foot to forefoot without the clunkiness of some stability shoes.

The uniquely shaped and styled engineered mesh upper is similar to that of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10. And let’s be honest, the heel flare feature that keeps pressure off of the Achilles tendon makes it look a bit like an elf slipper. Our wear-testers loved the stretchy and supportive upper because it kept our feet comfortably and securely in place while running.

The 860v11 is a very durable shoe that will likely be able endure at least two seasons of training. Does that mean you’ll get 350 to 400 miles out of them? Yes, it’s quite possible, thanks to the durable nature of the midsole foam and the segments of blown rubber on the outsole.

New Balance 860 v11. Cons

CONS: New Balance 860 v11

The 860v11 is not a speed merchant by any means, so don’t expect it to be your go-to shoe for interval workouts or your next 5K race. However, it can suffice for moderately fast tempo runs in a pinch and your next half marathon or marathon, especially if you’re seeking extra support late in the race.

TECH SPECS

New Balance 860 v11 - Tech Specs

SHOP NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM 860 v11

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - trail running